The Brewers looked to earn a series win on Sunday after splitting their first two games with the Washington Nationals. They also needed to win to guarantee they would maintain at least a tie in the National League Central.
In that effort the Brewers sent Yovani Gallardo (5-5, 3.68 ERA) to face Gio Gonzalez (6-5, 3.56 ERA). Gallardo got knocked around in two of his last three starts, giving up five runs each against Colorado and St. Louis.
Gonzalez had already faced Milwaukee once this year, tossing six shut out innings, allowing just three hits; so the Brewers offense had their work cut out for them.
Gonzalez struggled with his command and looked off, only going 3 1/3 innings, but that looked like it was all the Nationals needed as their bullpen shut the Brewers down until a blown save by Rafael Soriano gave the Brewers late life.
Unfortunately for the Crew Rob Wooten couldn’t get the Brewers into extra innings and the Nationals walked off with a 5-4 win.
Gonzalez worked around a two-out Ryan Braun single in the first inning. Braun stole second as well but he was stranded there.
Gallardo started the game strong, going one-two-three against the top of the Nationals order, including a strike out to end the inning against Jayson Werth.
The Brewers threatened in the top of the second. Jonathan Lucroy led off with a walk. After a Khris Davis strike out, Mark Reynolds singled to left. Jean Segura reached on a throwing error by Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman to load the bases for Milwaukee.
Unfortunately for the Crew, Gallardo and Gomez struck out to end the inning.
Washington made good on their threat when Ian Desmond knocked a single to right, bringing in LaRoche. Braun tried to throw Harper out at third, but he beat the throw and Desmond moved to second.
Catcher Jose Lobaton followed with a line drive back up the middle, but Gallardo caught it and doubled Harper off third to end the inning.
The Brewers made noise again in the top of the third when Braun and Aramis Ramirez drew one-out walks to put two on for Lucroy. Lucroy worked a nine-pitch at bat.
On the ninth pitch Braun took off for third and Lucroy bounced back to the mound. Gonzalez went to LaRoche at first for the out on Lucroy and Braun kept running and came around to score.
Khris Davis followed with a line-drive single to left to bring in Ramirez and give Milwaukee a 2-1 lead.
Denard Span knocked a one-out single in the bottom of the frame as the Natinoals continued to pour on the hits against Milwaukee’s pitchers. Anthony Rendon followed with a deep fly ball to center field.
Gomez made a leaping catch on it against the wall and Span moved up to second base. Gallardo struck out Werth to end the inning.
Segura led off the top of the fourth with a double to left. Gallardo bunted him over to third and the day was over for Gonzalez after 88 pitches in just 3 1/3 innings of work.
Craig Stammen came on for the Nationals with Segura at third being Gonzalez’s responsibility. Gomez bounced to short. Desmond looked Segura back, but he took off as soon as Desmond threw to first and scored on a hook slide to make it 3-1.
The final line on Gonzalez was 3 1/3 innings pitched, allowing three runs on four hits and three walks while striking out five.
The Nationals tied the game two batters into the bottom of the fourth. LaRoche drew a lead off walk and Zimmerman knocked a hanging curve out to left to tie the game at three.
Three batters later Lobaton knocked a two-out double to right to keep the inning alive for Washington. Stammen followed with a swinging bunt single. Lobaton came in to score on a wild pitch to give Washington a 4-3 lead.
Stammen put the Brewers down in order in the top of the fifth. With two outs in the bottom of the fifth LaRoche hit an infield single to the hole between second and first.
Rickie Weeks fielded the ball on the grass but his throw was late for LaRoche. That was it for Washington though.
Stammen worked another one-two-three inning in the top of the sixth. He retired all eight batters he faced after replacing Gonzalez.
Harper led off the Nationals’ half of the inning with a walk but Gallardo picked him off when he slipped trying to dive back into the base on a pick-off throw. It was all the Nats managed in the frame.
Overbay’s at-bat ended Gallardo’s day. He threw six innings and allowed four runs on eight hits and two walks while striking out six. Storen put down Overbay and Gomez to start the inning, but Weeks knocked a two-out single.
Weeks’ single broke up a string of 12-straight outs by the Nationals pen. With Braun at the plate Weeks stole second to move into scoring position. Braun walked to put two on for Ramirez, but he grounded out to third to end the inning.
Duke struck out Rendon for the second out before Jayson Werth singled to center, moving Span to third. LaRoche grounded out to end the inning with no damage done.
Tyler Clippard came on to pitch the eighth for Washington. Clippard struck out Lucroy, Davis and Reynolds to cruise through the inning.
Will Smith replaced Zach Duke in the bottom of the eighth. Zimmerman led off with a one-hop single to Ramirez at third. Ramirez knocked it down and threw to first, but too late.
Smith struck out Harper for the first out. Desmond whiffed for the second out, but Zimmerman took second as strike three was wild. Smith finished the inning by striking out Lobaton for his third of the inning.
Nationals closer Rafael Soriano came on to pitch the ninth for the Nats. Segura popped out to first for the first out. Scooter Gennett pinch-hit for Will Smith and knocked a single to right. Logan Schafer came in to pinch-run for Gennett.
Gomez drew a four-pitch walk to put two on for Rickie Weeks who knocked a single to center to tie the game at four. It was the first run Soriano had allowed since June 10th.
With Braun batting Weeks and Gomez attempted a double steal, but Lobaton threw Weeks out at second for the second out of the inning. Braun drove a fly deep to center field, but Span caught it on the warning track to end the inning.
Rob Wooten came on to try to send the game to extra innings for the Crew and promptly gave up a single to Span. Rendon followed with a ground ball to first. Reynolds went to second for the lead out, but the return throw wasn’t in time for a double play.
Werth knocked a line drive to the corner in left to drive in Rendon and end the game with the Nationals on top 5-4.
Rob Wooten picked up the loss for Milwaukee, and Soriano earned a vulture win for the Nationals.
The Brewers now look to the Dodgers and Cardinals who play tonight to see if they’ll still have a share of first place when the day ends.